Newspaper article International New York Times

For Making Decisions Large and Small, Plenty of Aids to Help You Choose

Newspaper article International New York Times

For Making Decisions Large and Small, Plenty of Aids to Help You Choose

Article excerpt

A number of apps can help in decision making, whether you're wavering over vacation destinations, a baby's name or what to order for dinner.

For the indecisive among us, help is on the way. A new generation of apps meant to help with day-to-day decision making is here. Assuming you can decide which to use, these apps may help bring some order to your life.

Perhaps the smartest decision-making app I've used is ChoiceMap, because it's easy to use and it makes it feel as if your decision has been intelligently considered by the app's algorithms. ChoiceMap, which is free for iOS, tries to make the process as smooth as possible.

To start, you describe a choice to make or use one of the app's many templates on diverse topics, like choosing baby names or which phone carrier to use. Once you have described the decision to be made, and typed in all the outcomes that could result, the app lets you explain all the factors that influence your thinking. If you're trying to decide where to go for a vacation, for example, cost may be the biggest factor.

Next, you dial through each possible outcome -- Las Vegas, Los Angeles or maybe Europe? -- and rate it against the influence factors by sliding markers up and down. This interface and the slider positions you can choose help to make the app feel more meaningful than if you merely had to choose among a handful of fixed options.

When you've addressed the possible outcomes, the app will tell you which it has calculated to be the best and show you all the results as simple bar graphs. You can share your results in a number of ways, including via email and Twitter. The app is simple and useful for organizing thoughts about a particular decision. Despite its simplicity, I still found its menus to be a little bewildering at times.

The Decision Buddy Decision Maker app, also free for Android phones, is similar to ChoiceMap, but with some neat extras, like being able to help with group decision making. This app has a similar text-based interface, but it's less about grading the different options and more about choosing among outcomes without overthinking. …

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